Mason Locke Weems was an American minister, as well as an evangelical bookseller and author. He is best known for his biographies of historical figures. The best known one was a biography on George Washington, The Life of Washington. He wrote this book in the year 1800.

The Life of Washington was widely accepted after it was written. According to Google Books, “The effect of this “single, immortal, and dubious anecdote,” and others like it, has made this book one of the most influential in the history of American folklore. Originally published as an eighty-page pamphlet entitled The Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington, it quickly attained immense popularity.” This book helped to influence folklore about the life of Washington. I think that one reason why this book was widely accepted was because he was the first president of the United States of America, which is kind of a big deal.

In this book includes a lot of Washington’s successes in his life, but it also talks about his childhood and his private life, some of which we know nothing about, so he kind of came up with some stories to fill in the gaps and make Washington seem like a better person than he probably was.

How believable is Weems’ book on Washington? Some of these stories he tells about Washington are completely believable, because we have historical evidence that it actually happened. However, some stories he told about Washington he either exaggerated, or it just did not happen. He once said in his book, Washington, as a boy, threw a stone over the Rappahannock river which was over 300 yards long. Now, maybe some baseball pitchers can do this, but Washington as a kid? I doubt it. Some stories he completely made up to make Washington seem ever the more great than he really was. However, some stories are historically accurate. Weems also talk about Washington’s theology. He says that the public loves Washington. He says Washington was the model of greatness. He also gives a detailed description of Washington’s death. He says God has rewarded Washington greatly, and how angels arrive to bear him up to heaven. I would say that this highly unlikely that this would happen. Weems also gives us a detailed description of his childhood. He says that he played strategic army games with his friends, and he was amazing at them. He says that Washington was fast on his feet. He said Washington won every footrace because he was fast. He also tells the famous story of young George cutting down a cherry tree. We all know that story, right?

How believable is Weems’ book on Washington? I would say mostly not believable at all. Most of these stories are made up, but some are true. However, they are so intertwined, I could not figure out which of his stories were true, or false. However, it was widely accepted after Washington’s death, and helped add to common folklore. It was a bestseller, so apparently it was a really good book back then.